AskDefine | Define rill

Dictionary Definition



1 a small stream [syn: rivulet, run, runnel, streamlet]
2 a small channel (as one formed by soil erosion)

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ɹɪl/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪl


  1. A very small brook; a streamlet.


  • So twice five miles of fertile ground
  • With walls and towers were girdled round :
  • And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
  • Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
  • And here were forests ancient as the hills,
  • Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. - Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


A very small brook

Extensive Definition

A rill is a narrow and shallow incision into soil resulting from erosion by overland flow that has been focused into a thin thread by soil surface roughness. Rilling, the process of rill formation, is common on agricultural land and unvegetated ground.
Some rills will continue to grow, as they are widened and/or deepened by the runoff which flows through them. Other rills may decline in importance as sediment is deposited within them. Eventually, a hydrologically efficient rill network will be formed. The development of such a network is an example of self-organisation.
In a few cases, rills may continue to grow and become gullies or rivulets then streams and so on to form a river.
rill in German: Rille
rill in Japanese: リル (地形)
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